"The Evil That Men Do Lives After Them; The Good is Oft Interred with their Bones"

Dec 20, 2018 - Mr. J. A. McNamara

 

                                                                                                                                        Mark Anthony 40 AD

 I was recently honoured to be invited to present Grand Rounds at Cork University Hospital on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the opening of the hospital. I chose to present on the development of the hospital over that period and the likely future for it over the coming decade, in a metaphorical way through the words of Mark Anthony in his inspirational speech given at the funeral of Julius Caesar. In doing so I addressed a number of themes that can be viewed by clicking here.

 

I will return to the theme of legacy which I believe the title of this piece relates to, but in the first instance Mark Anthony references ambition when he says;

 

“The Noble Brutus Hath Told You That Caesar Was Ambitious; If It Were So It Was a Grievous Fault and Grievously Hath Caesar Answered it.”

 

The hospital has been very ambitious over the past twenty years and has seen significant consolidation and expansion of services while successfully competing with the private sector and in the process generating over €60m annually in private income to support service development.

 

I want to reference another theme in Mark Anthony’s speech on the issue of resourcing when he says:

 

“He Hath Brought Many Captives Home to Rome Whose Ransoms Did the General Coffers

Fill”

 

In relation to the accretion of resources to the hospital in terms of capital and revenue funding (as a proxy for service development) the following facts are worth noting:

  • The hospital has successfully secured capital investment, over two decades, of c. €500m which has enabled the physical enlargement of the campus and the provision of infrastructure which befits the excellent work that our staff do every day;

 

  • The complexity of services provided by the hospital has expanded exponentially with the support of the National Care Programmes of the HSE and the Department of Health;

 

  • Following the low point (post the Government moratorium) of 2011, the number of staff employed in all grades has risen by 750 people;

 

  • In that period from 2012, the revenue budget for the hospital has increased by €70m to €370m;

 

  • In 2017, the Government designated the hospital as one of only two Trauma Centres in Ireland, a designation which ensures continuous development of services related to trauma care for the next decade;

 

  • At a time of enormous concern at the damage being done to the environment, Cork University Hospital remains the only hospital in the world to be awarded the Green Flag by the international Federation of Environmental Education following external assessment.

By any measure these summary achievements represent success and have enabled the hospital increase its complexity and therefore its capacity to meet the needs of the population we serve, while being sensitive to the values that we believe are important.

This sensitivity to the values that define the hospital is incredibly important because those values help shape its culture and define behaviours that are acceptable or not. In this regard, one of the key values that staff are expected to uphold is that of fairness in the pursuit of justice and truth and I hope that hospital leadership at all levels are guided by this laudable goal.

 

In my view it is critical for hospital leadership to maintain independence of thought, an ability to objectively evaluate situations in arriving at decisions, a capacity to practice fairness and adherence to values that reflect those of the hospital.

 

Personally, I have found, in almost three decades of being CEO of Cork University Hospital, that maintaining this degree of autonomy free, of the constraints that come with social fraternisation and familiarity, has been of particular importance as I seek to be objective and fair. The extent to which I have been both objective and fair is something that others will adjudge for themselves.

In his words during the course of his speech, Mark Anthony also makes the observation that

“Oh Judgement! Thou Art Fled to Brutish Beasts and Men Have Lost Their Reason”

I see this as an invitation to seek out the truth in everything that we say and do. This search for the truth requires consideration, thought and reflection, behaviours that are oftentimes lacking in a world driven by immediacy and the rush to judgement. One wishes (perhaps forlornly) that public discourse on so many aspects of our society, including our health system, was more informed than is typically the case in our modern world.

To return to Mark Anthony and his observations that “The Evil That Men Do” etc., he is probably correct that in the human condition regrettably reside those negative characteristics and qualities that sometimes disable us from acknowledging the good in each other and celebrating achievement. Instead how often do we display behaviours that are the product of jealously, of personal prejudice and of a myopic view of the world.

 

____________

J. A. McNamara

Chief Executive Officer

 

6 Comment(s) on this page

Anonymous

Anonymous

Having just read your blog I am surprised to see the word 'fairness' to the forefront of the hospital's ethos where over the years many staff have been discarded for trying to be fair and honest in there work with no reward unless you toe the party line. Maybe you should reflect on the last few lines of your piece where you wonder about behaviours that are the product of jealousy of personal prejudice and a myopic view of the word and wonder why this is so. When good people are overlooked for positions and cast aside because they might speak their mind or have a different view of the world. It can sometimes be hard to acknowledge the good in others and celebrating achievement. Maybe it's time to try and bring everyone along this path rather than just the chosen few. There is an amazing amount of resource at your fingertips if you have the energy to exploit it and make this institution the great place it should be. Happy Christmas.

Anonymous

Anonymous

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Anonymous

Anonymous


Dear Mr. McNamara,
With reference to your blog of 20/12/18 entitled "The Evil That Men Do Lives After Them; The Good is Oft Interred with their Bones", your Shakespearean quote from Mark Anthonys oration at the funeral of Julius Caesar praises the good deeds of people, but notes that the memory of those deeds is fleeting, in stark contrast to evil deeds and their perpetrators.
It is worth noting that, while Caesar went to his grave, he was followed shortly thereafter by his murderers, as his family, friends and the mob of Rome sought vengeance.

You further quote from the play:-

- The Noble Brutus Hath Told You That Caesar Was Ambitious; If It Were So It Was a Grievous Fault and Grievously Hath Caesar Answered it.
Noting the CUH ambitions of the last 20 years.

Going on to quote further:-

-He Hath Brought Many Captives Home to Rome Whose Ransoms Did the General Coffers Fill
Here you extensively outline and note the capital and revenue funding facts and note your views regarding hospital leadership maintaining independence of thought and ability to objectively evaluate situations , practice of fairness and adherence to values.
It is here that, as a pensioner, I would like to present a few points regarding the FAIRNESS, EQUITY and LEADERSHIP aspects.
There is no waiver of parking charges for pensioners in CUH. I now challenge you to lead this initiative and waive parking charges for pensioners. Pensioners (living outside good public transport boundaries) who are entitled to free travel from the state are required to, not only incur the cost of driving expenses, but have the double penalty of a hospital parking charge.
Surely your three decades of leadership in the maintenance of independence of thought and evaluation and capacity to practice fairness and promote values could rectify this anomaly by provision of free parking for pensioners reflecting the values of the hospital????? Even for a reasonable defined period of time (minimum 2 hours).
Again, for the same reasons as the above, in relation to meals provided in the staff canteen facility to the general public, needs to be to be made for subsidised meals for pensioners (staff rates).
As you have stated, your three decades as CEO of Cork University Hospital, have been involved maintaining this degree of autonomy, free of the constraints that come with social fraternisation and familiarity, so that you seek to be objective and fair; there should be no difficulty in deciding when these measures can and will be implemented.

Oh Judgement! Thou Art Fled to Brutish Beasts and Men Have Lost Their Reason
The extent to which you are both objective and fair is something that others will adjudge for themselves.
I invite you to see this as an invitation to seek out the fairness in these matters.
Mant thanks for your advocacy in the two issues I have raised.


Tom OConnor.

Anonymous

Anonymous

Dear Mr. McNamara,
With regard to my recent comments and views expressed in the response to your blog, I With to know when streps will be taken to implement the exemption of parking charges for pensioners and subsidation of meals for pensioners in the hospital, as outlined in the response.
We are waiting for your proactive response to the same.
Tom O'Connor.

Anonymous

Anonymous

I understand that you were appointed as General Manager in Waterford University Hospital and moved to Cork University Hospital as Deputy General Manager, again through open competition.
Can you address the following, so as to clarify the facts:-
That you were appointed General Manager in Cork University Hospital through open competition (or not).
That you were you appointed as Chief Executive Officer in Cork University Hospital (or not).
A question that needs to be addressed is:-
How can you function as a Chief Executive Officer without reporting to an administrative board or a statutory board??
It seems that your blogs have engaged with the public expressing many of your own personal views.
I believe that the public does deserve to know how you arrived at your present position.

Anonymous

Anonymous

To have the arrogance to compare oneself to such a successful historic figure with no tangible achievements is the epitome of a narcissistic individuals (similar to that of some current prominent well know public figures).
You have been exposed in the last comment regarding your questionable route to your current position and non-accountability in the same, and presented with the opportunity to start to redeem your self proclaimed magnificence by the comment previous to that (exemptions from parking charges for pensioners and subsidised maels for the same).
You are challenged, again, to implement the same.

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Last Modified Date: 20/12/2018 12:02:03